Kei Kamara wasn't the only player to make his New England Revolution debut on Saturday as Sporting CP loanee Sambinha entered as a late-game substitute.
With the Revs up 2-0 on the Chicago Fire, head coach Jay Heaps chose to insert Sambinha for Juan Agudelo in the 89th minute. The defender would only have time to make one touch and one pass before the final whistle blew. The brief assignment, however, could lead to more minutes in the future.
"He made two or three just quick plays, but he’s physical," Heaps noted. "He’s strong. He’s good on the ball when he has to be. And going forward, I think it’s someone we really want to start to ease into the lineup."
As is often noted, it's difficult to transition to MLS. The demanding schedule, physical play, and high-pressure tactics are hallmarks of domestic play. Combine these factors with a language barrier and it's understandable why few foreign players have an immediate impact.
Since joining the Revs in preseason, Sambinha has shown a clear desire to get better on a daily basis. It's a quality that his teammates have noticed and praised.
"Obviously, the language thing was a big thing," Andrew Farrell noted. "He [now] knows a lot of English and he's getting adapted to what we have to do on the field."
Expect to see more of Sambinha as he continues to adapt to his new league and team.
"It's also one of those things, new players in the league, it takes time to adjust," Heaps explained. "He’s really starting to turn the corner. I like what he’s doing in training. I think it’s a matter of time before he starts to inch in and get minutes."